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White-Collar Labour Markets, 1890-1918: Evidence from the Banking Industry



This paper uses wage records to examine salaries and career tracks in the English banking industry between 1890 and 1918. The main conclusions are as follows. First, unlike manufacturing and a number of other sectors, which experienced increasing wages prior to the First World War, real wages in banking declined by 20-30 percent between 1890 and 1914. Second, wages increased with tenure over a worker’s entire career. I argue that this was a form of incentive contract designed to reduce turnover and increase effort. Third, there was considerable nominal wage stickiness; in approximately one third of sample man-years an individual received a zero nominal wage increment, but negative increments were virtually unheard of. Fourth, promotions to branch manager typically took 15-20 years and the associated pay increases were used as a positive incentive to encourage workers to supply effort.

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  • Andrew Seltzer, 2004. "White-Collar Labour Markets, 1890-1918: Evidence from the Banking Industry," Royal Holloway, University of London: Discussion Papers in Economics 04/21, Department of Economics, Royal Holloway University of London, revised Aug 2004.
  • Handle: RePEc:hol:holodi:0421

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